She will soon die without food," said the page.
The king agreed that it was quite impossible for the babe to escape death, but he could not forget the strange voice which had said:
"Here in this hut is born to-night
The maiden of your fate:
You can't escape your lot, young king;
Your fate for you will wait.
'Tis fate—'tis fate—'tis fate."
Now it happened that very day that a woodcutter was working in the forest. Suddenly he heard what sounded like the cry of a baby.
"There can't be a child here in the deep forest," he said to himself and went on with his work.
The cry continued, however, and it sounded very near, almost under the woodcutter's feet. He looked into the hollow log and there he found a dimpled baby girl wrapped in a bright red sash.
"Poor little thing! Her own mother has abandoned her. My good wife will be a mother to her," he said.
The woodcutter's wife had no children of her own and received the baby gladly. She named her Maria-of-the-forest. As the days flew by and the babe thrived under her care, she could not have loved her more had she been her own child.
The weeks and months passed and soon the little Maria-of-the-forest had grown into a lovely little girl five years old. Her kind foster mother made a bonnet for her out of the bright red sash which she had found wrapped about her the first time she saw her. It made Maria's dark eyes look even brighter than before.
Now it happened that the king and his page were again hunting in the forest and passed by the house of the wood cutter. The page noticed the pretty little girl and the red bonnet she wore. He called her to him and examined it carefully.
"There can be no doubt that material is from my own red sash," he confessed to the king. "This woodcutter's daughter could have such a bonnet as this in no other way."
The king bade him make inquiries about the child and soon the page found out that the little maid was in truth the baby he had left in the hollow tree. The king ordered him again to steal her.